Bottesford Town V AFC Emley (30/4/16)
I was really hoping for a play off a game today involving my own team, Blyth Spartans. However after an enthralling game last Tuesday night against Workington it was not to be as we lost 4-3. I was gutted after that match although on reflection a few days layer I thought it maybe just yet and was not to be the end of the World. Possibly we are not just quite ready yet for that big step up into the Conference North. Despite my deflation this week at least a visit to a new ground can always raise my spirits. Otherwise a day of going shopping with the wife does little for my morale.
I decided with a fellow Blyth fan to take in this North East Counties league match between Bottesford Town and Emley in the division 1 play off. final Later it seemed a bit odd as the Premier division of this league were still playing matches today. I suspect the reason for this was they had one more teams in their league which accounted for a slightly extended season.
I had no idea where Bottesford Town play so I can just thank someone somewhere for installing Google maps on the computer. It is in fact in Scunthorpe and only a few miles from Glanford Park of Scunthorpe United. It’s a pleasant and easy journey by car, just straight down the motorways taking about 3 hours to get there. As we drove to the Bottesford ground we passed Glanford Park. This was the first of the new grounds that were built and I recollected going here back in 1988 when it first opened. Its was the first new ground since Southend moved to Roots Hall in 1955. No one at the time in 1988 envisaged that this would be the start of many new grounds to come in the future. The Hillsborough disaster occurred the following year highlighting a desperate need for football to change. Numerous new grounds in the Football league have been built since then.
Strangely however, even though Scunthorpe were only moved to Glanford Park in 1988, they have plans drawn up for another new ground to be built.
Today opponents were AFC Emley who used to play in the Northern Premier league Premier division. The club were FA vase semi finalists in 1987 and in 1998 they reached the 3rd round proper of the FA cup only to lose narrowly away at West Ham United 2-1.
Bottesford Town have only ever have got as far as the 1st qualifying round of the FA cup. They have been through to the 2nd round of the Vase but were beaten oddly enough by AFC Emley. The club were only formed in 1974 and started off in the local Lincolnshire leagues. In 2000 they went into the Central Midlands leagues then in 2006 the North East Counties league. The Poachers as they are known play at Birch Lane.
The outer walls of the ground are predominantly corrugated metal sheets.. The changing rooms form part of the outer wall. There is no club house in the ground but there is a decent set up just outside. There is a small covered stand. This provides seats and a covered standing area both sides of the seats. When I say seats I really mean wooden slats stuck down on three large terraced steps of concrete. Opposite the stand are the two dugouts which are actually tall enough to stand upright in them. The twenty lamps for floodlights are on 10 posts around the ground, 5 on each side. The ground has a capacity for 1000, has 90 seats and a covered area for 300.
The match started with the home side slightly getting the better edge of the game. You could see AFC Emley starting to settle in to the match although the home side had a great goal scoring chance in the first half but was missed. The teams went into the break still goalless. The second half got under way and the visitors were getting more and more into the game. I had a feeling that one goal might just be enough to separate them and I was eventually correct. But not in the way I was thinking.
On 74 minutes the visitors took the lead. Town pushed for the equaliser but it was never really coming. My travelling companion made our way to the exit behind one of the goals when the 90 minutes was practically up. As we waited for the final whistle a Bottesford Town player was brought down in the box right in front of us. Was it just outside or in the box I was not sure. The referee was and a penalty was given. Its was duly converted to send the match into extra time. There was no extra goals in the next 30 minutes of extra time so it was down to penalties. Goals were scored and potential goals were saved by both sides.
Something had to give eventually and it was Bottesford who came out top on the day with a 4-3 win on penalties. Their goal keeper has saved a kick from an Emley player to give them promotion. The team ran and jumped on the goalie in their celebrations. I thought they were going to come through the goal net at one stage. Meanwhile the AFC Emley players were sitting down on the ground looking dejected.
It’s a horrible feeling that unfortunately I could recently relate to. It’s tough way to finish the season. All that hard work and effort and you miss out right at the finishing post. I know what its like. Been there and got the T shirt